New York - Donald Trump on Saturday introduced his pick for vice president Mike Pence as a "solid" man and a unifying figure among Republicans in their first public appearance on a joint ticket for the White House.
The New York billionaire, set to be crowned Republican presidential candidate in Cleveland next week, insisted the Indiana governor was his first choice despite media reports that he had considered changing his mind up to the last minute.
"One of the big reasons I chose Mike - one of the reasons - is party unity, I have to be honest. So many people have said party unity because I'm an outsider," the real estate tycoon said in Manhattan.
After Trump's more than 20-minute speech, which often deviated from Pence, the two men shared the spotlight for only the briefest of moments when Pence walked out and they shook hands, and again after Pence had finished speaking and was joined by Trump and both men's families.
Trump praised his 57-year-old running mate's fiscally conservative policies and lauded his own success in Indiana's Republican primary, which defied predictions from the party establishment.
Pence had served "with distinction" in Congress and as the chairman of the House Republican Conference -- in effect party number three -- Trump said, adding that he has "the skills of a highly talented executive."
Although Indiana is part of the Midwestern industrial region known as the Rust Belt, which has lost manufacturing jobs, Trump said that as governor Pence had brought down unemployment, balanced the budget and made the state's largest income tax cut.
'Donald Trump gets it'
Pence in turn called Trump "a good man" who "will make a great president."
"I come to this moment deeply humbled but with a grateful heart," he said. "Grateful to God for his amazing grace."
He presented his new boss's outsider status as an asset, saying the real estate tycoon "understands the frustrations and the hopes of the American people like no leader since Ronald Reagan."
"We're tired of being told that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives better for us... Donald Trump gets it."
In foreign policy, Trump would lead from strength, Pence said. "He will rebuild the arsenal of democracy, stand with our allies and hunt down and destroy the enemies of our freedom."
On finishing, Pence was embraced by members of his family, shook hands again with Trump and was kissed by the tycoon's daughters before the two candidates stood, rather stiffly, side-by-side.